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Xi's state visit sign of strong Sino-UK ties

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-19 07:45

Xi's state visit sign of strong Sino-UK ties

President Xi Jinping shakes hands with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron in Beijing, Dec 2, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

A carriage ride to Buckingham Palace with Her Majesty British Queen Elizabeth II.

A state banquet given in Her Majesty's name. An opportunity to address British parliamentarians at the Houses of Parliament. A visit to the Manchester Football Group in the company of British Prime Minister David Cameron...

President Xi Jinping's state visit to the United Kingdom, the first by a Chinese head of state since his predecessor Hu Jintao's in 2005, will feature many memorable highlights that will almost certainly grab the limelight back home.

But his visit is more about diplomatic realism. It is too early to talk about a UK-China "love story". Yet the warmth in the air does seem to show the relationship is coming of age.

That both Beijing and London are talking about a "golden age" in bilateral ties, and displaying an eagerness to get closer is an impressive sign of diplomatic maturity.

A decade has passed since the two parties exchanged vows about a comprehensive strategic partnership. Like a new couple with different beliefs, Beijing and London have had troubles accommodating their differences. Now that they have come to realize what truly matters in a productive relationship, they will find themselves in a land of more possibilities.

The recent rapport between Beijing and London may confuse some of the latter's allies. London was accused of "kowtowing" to Beijing by signing up for membership of the Beijing-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

But neither side needs to forsake its own principles to get along; as long as they are willing to get rid of the ideological fences they have built for themselves; as long as they see each other as a source of opportunities instead of challenges.

The UK says it wants to be China's best partner in the West. China is equally enthusiastic about engaging with the UK, "in a wider range, at a higher level and in greater depth", as Xi told Reuters in a written interview.

The UK's post-austerity reconstruction calls for overseas investment. Chinese investors are trotting the globe looking for quality destinations for their funds. It is a match made in heaven.

London has made "a visionary and strategic choice that fully meets Britain's own long-term interest," Xi said. What comes out of the visit will testify to that.

The anticipated deals and agreements from this short visit, however, will only be the low-hanging fruits. An enduring constructive atmosphere will prove more rewarding for both parties in the long run.

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